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Fall 2016 Vol. 1.2

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Collecting Histories
Lynn Ransom

In the fall of 2014, the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies convened the Seventh Annual Lawrence J. Schoenberg Symposium on Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age to consider the question: what can the study of collecting habits and provenance tell us about manuscript culture?1 Sometimes considered niche areas of interest, the history of collecting and provenance studies have broad implications for how we understand and interpret the manuscript book today. In the symposium, which we called “Collecting Histories,” our aim was to tease out some of those implications and provoke further thought on how examining patterns of collecting confirms or confounds assumptions about readership and the interpretation of texts and contexts of the premodern manuscript.

This issue of Manuscript Studies highlights the results of the “Collecting Histories” symposium and continues the conversations started during the event. As the contributions in this issue reveal, the life of a manuscript book only begins when a scribe puts down his or her pen. What happens from that moment to the present day can reveal a wealth of information about readership and reception across time.

 

Joseph Holland and the Idea of the Chaucerian Book
Megan L. Cook

The antiquarian Joseph Holland (d. 1605) owned a large, but damaged, Chaucerian manuscript from the early fifteenth century (now Cambridge University Library Gg.4.27). Holland recognized in the manuscript an effort to construct a collection based on Chaucerian authorship, and he repaired and added to it using a copy of the 1598 printed edition of Chaucer’s collected Works. From this edition, he took not only the text of Chaucer’s poems, but paratextual materials as well, including a glossary, biographical information, and a frontispiece. His activities reveal how a distinctly post-medieval understanding of what the collected works of Chaucer should look like shaped the history of this fifteenth-century manuscript, and underscore impact of later stages of transmission can have on the way medieval books are read and preserved.

 

“Safe from Destruction by Fire”: Isabella Stewart Gardner’s Venetian Manuscripts
Anne-Marie Eze

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston houses over thirty Venetian manuscripts dating from the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries. They comprise official documents issued by the Doges; histories of the Republic of Venice, its government, and the patriciate; diplomas; and a statute book of a lay confraternity. Most volumes contain complete and dated texts, are illuminated, and survive in their original bindings. The collection, therefore, charts the evolution over three centuries of Venetian book production, and provides a wealth of sources for the study of Venetian history, portraiture, iconography, genealogy, and heraldry. Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840–1924) purchased many of her Venetian manuscripts en bloc in 1903 from the Harvard University professor Charles Eliot Norton (1827–1907). Norton placed his collection formed in Venice in Gardner’s newly-opened museum to safeguard it from dispersal and mutilation for its miniatures and bindings. Drawing on Gardner and Norton’s unpublished correspondence and acquisition documents in the archives of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Harvard University, this article reconstructs the formation of one of the most important collections of Venetian manuscripts outside of Venice and presents a hitherto unknown episode of the preservation of illuminated manuscripts by two prominent Gilded Age American collectors.

 

From Sinai to California: The Trajectory of Greek NT Codex 712 from the UCLA Young Research Library’s Special Collections (170/347)

Julia Verkholantsev

The eleventh- or twelfth-century parchment codex 170/347 is one of the rarities archived in the UCLA Young Research Library Special Collections. It has much to offer to a student of paleography: illuminations, a scribe’s colophon, calligraphic minuscule script, later inscriptions and modifications, inserted paper quires, missing folia, study notes, and even a cryptographic table. One of the most fascinating aspects of this New-Testament-turned-lectionary manuscript, however, is its history as a world traveler, for the most part incognito. Although the manuscript’s mysterious disappearance from St. Catherine’s metochion in Cairo obscured its trajectory, the analysis of its graffiti and the comparison of catalogues’ data help reestablish its provenance and narrate its journey beyond the walls of a monastic scriptorium. The resulting travelogue not only tells the story of how Sinai-born MS 170/347 landed in Los Angeles; it offers insight into the fate that befell many other rare books in the height of the nineteenth-century collecting and scholarship rush.

 

“The Butcher’s Bill”: Using the Schoenberg Database to Reverse-Engineer Medieval and Renaissance Manuscript Books from Constituent Fragments
Eric J. Johnson, Scott Gwara

The Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts can be used not only to track the provenance of individual manuscripts, but also to uncover larger patterns in multiple provenance strings of manuscripts. For example, does an individual auction sale or bookseller’s catalogue have any discernable influence on the acquisitions made by a collector or institution? Or is the publication of a collection or exhibition catalogue preceded or followed by any discernable pattern of acquisition activity? This paper explores patterns of acquisition, exhibition and sale associated with the collections of William Bragge (1823-1884) of Sheffield and Dr. T. Shadford Walker (1834-1885) of Liverpool. Bragge was the largest single exhibitor in the Burlington Fine Arts Club exhibition in 1874. The sale of his library less than two years later at Sotheby’s in June 1876 was only identified as the property of “a gentleman of consummate taste and judgment,” but full reports in The Times revealed his identity to those not already in the know. Not surprisingly the London antiquarian booksellers, Bernard Quaritch, were a major buyer at the sale; its Catalogue 31 published in the fall of 1876 after the sale contains numerous items acquired there. Quaritch was also apparently bidding on behalf of the British Museum and of Dr. Walker of Liverpool. In October of the same year Walker was a major contributor to the Liverpool Fine Arts Club exhibition of illuminated manuscripts and every one of the 18 manuscripts exhibited by Walker had been purchased at the Bragge sale earlier that year.

 

The Linked Collections of William Bragge (1823–1884) of Birmingham and Dr. Thomas Shadford Walker (1834–1885) of Liverpool
William P. Stoneman

The Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts can be used not only to track the provenance of individual manuscripts, but also to uncover larger patterns in multiple provenance strings of manuscripts. For example, does an individual auction sale or bookseller’s catalogue have any discernable influence on the acquisitions made by a collector or institution? Or is the publication of a collection or exhibition catalogue preceded or followed by any discernable pattern of acquisition activity? This paper explores patterns of acquisition, exhibition and sale associated with the collections of William Bragge (1823-1884) of Sheffield and Dr. T. Shadford Walker (1834-1885) of Liverpool. Bragge was the largest single exhibitor in the Burlington Fine Arts Club exhibition in 1874. The sale of his library less than two years later at Sotheby’s in June 1876 was only identified as the property of “a gentleman of consummate taste and judgment,” but full reports in The Times revealed his identity to those not already in the know. Not surprisingly the London antiquarian booksellers, Bernard Quaritch, were a major buyer at the sale; its Catalogue 31 published in the fall of 1876 after the sale contains numerous items acquired there. Quaritch was also apparently bidding on behalf of the British Museum and of Dr. Walker of Liverpool. In October of the same year Walker was a major contributor to the Liverpool Fine Arts Club exhibition of illuminated manuscripts and every one of the 18 manuscripts exhibited by Walker had been purchased at the Bragge sale earlier that year.

 

Medieval Origins Revealed by Modern Provenance: The Case of the Bywater Missal 
Peter Kidd

This essay works backwards and forwards from a few known points in the history of an early 13th-century illuminated missal at the Bodleian Library (MS. Bywater adds. 2), eventually filling-in the gaps to establish an unbroken chain of provenance from the present day back to the creation of the manuscript at the Cistercian abbey of Pontigny within about five years of 1208.

 

Canons, Huguenots, Movie Stars, and Missionaries: A Breviary’s Journey from Le Mans to Reno
Lisa Fagin Davis

This essay traces the journey of a breviary from the cathedral of Le Mans to the University of Nevada at Reno (ND2895.R46 U65 1400z). Liturgical evidence situates the original provenance of the University of Nevada manuscript securely in Le Mans and argues it was intended for display in a niche in the cathedral wall until 1562 when Huguenots sacked Le Mans. Although no definitive evidence of the manuscript is provided in the inventory made by the canons for the purpose of restitution, the manuscript does provide evidence for subsequent ownership. A nineteenth-century document pastedown on the back cover suggests that the manuscript traveled to England some time in the 19th century, where it was likely purchased by Gareth Hughes, the early Hollywood film star turned missionary, who later donated his collection to the University of Nevada in 1964.

Manuscripts of Sir Thomas Phillipps in North American Institutions
Toby Burrows

The manuscript collection of Sir Thomas Phillipps was almost certainly the largest private collection ever assembled. Its dispersal during the century after his death in 1872 scattered his manuscripts into public and private collections around the world. These included many collections in North America, several of which now count former Phillipps manuscripts among their greatest treasures. This paper examines the extent to which Phillipps manuscripts are now held in institutional collections in North America and traces the history of their acquisition

 

Annotations

The Bibale Database at the IRHT: A Digital Tool for Researching Manuscript Provenance
Hanno Wijsman

The Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes (IRHT) in Paris makes available a series of specialized electronic tools on medieval manuscripts, among which is Bibale, a database that aims to trace the provenance of medieval manuscripts and to reconstruct historic book collections from the medieval and early modern periods. This article explains the history, scope, and present state of this database and its links with several other tools, among which are the image repository Bibliothèque virtuelle des manuscrits médiévaux (BVMM) and the Biblissima project that is working on interoperability of a series of French digital humanities projects concerning manuscripts and early printed books.


Broken Books
Debra Taylor Cashion

Broken Books is a digital humanities project built collaboratively between Pius XII Memorial Library and the Center for Digital Humanities of Saint Louis University. The goal of the Broken Books is to offer a digital solution to the problem of studying detached leaves from premodern manuscripts. Using online images, descriptive metadata, and nimble digital tools for relating these, Broken Books provides allows any researcher to manage a reconstruction project that also permits outside users to add images and information to it. Although still under development, Broken Books will encourage new contributions to manuscripts studies by facilitating the reconstruction of manuscripts that some time in their history were broken apart and scattered among various locations.

Reviews

Manuscripts of the Latin Classics 800–1200 ed. by Erik Kwakkel (review)
Rita Copeland

 

 

 

Spring 2016 Vol. 1.1

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